Kisha and her brother, SPC Tommy Makerney at Camp Copper, Iraq in 2008.

An Unstoppable Attitude, Sgt. Kisha Makerney Thrives, Despite Loss of Her Leg

Bret Moss, Choctaw Nation
7/29/14

A conversation with Army National Guardsman Sgt. Kisha Makerney is a motivating experience. In the face of seemingly detrimental odds, she has not only thrived, but accomplished more in a few years than many will in a lifetime.

As a Choctaw who grew up in Fort Towson, Oklahoma, Makerney excitedly began her military service with the Army National Guard at the age of 17 and subsequently embarked on her first tour at age 18, where she was stationed in Iraq.

Returning from her inaugural tour of duty, Makerney was in a motorcycle accident that claimed her left leg at the age of 20. Due to her accident not occurring during service, Makerney was responsible for her rehabilitation.

Fresh out of her teens and full of vigor, she was determined to return to active military service. She was taught basic physical therapy and fitted with her first prosthetic limb in October of 2005. “I pretty much had to teach myself how to walk, run and march… All the stuff that was needed to remain a soldier,” Makerney stated as she recalled the first steps to overcoming her adverse situation.

In 2007 she returned to Iraq as the first female amputee soldier in a combat zone where she trained Iraqi correctional officers for the prison system. Her love for service aided in overcoming the obstacles created by the loss of her leg.

That dedication stemmed from a strong family history of service and early admiration for soldiers. “I have been drawn to the military my whole life,” stated Makerney. “I just feel like I was made for it. I just know it.”

Having both grandfathers serve in the military sparked a young Makerney’s interests. She recalls the captivating stories as a girl that inspired her to pursue a military career. These recollections of history and her natural zest drew her to where the action would likely be found.

Returning to Iraq in 2007 for a second tour, various physical ailments associated with the accident continually beset Makerney. Upon returning stateside, she sought assistance in caring for those issues. She learned that the Center for the Intrepid (CFI), located in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, had recently opened its doors to assist servicemen and women and sought CFI’s assistance in improving herself.

Kisha’s photo atop Mount Kilimanjaro which earned her the Nair $10,000 award. (Courtesy Bevan Bell)

Upon arriving at CFI, Makerney was ecstatic to have ample resources available as well as the ability to connect with other soldiers who had similar experiences and situations. Spending approximately 18 months at CFI, she improved all her physical abilities, became increasingly motivated as she met fellow amputee soldiers and was fitted with upgraded prosthetics.

“You tell them anything you want to do and they will probably teach you,” Makerney stated as she praised CFI for their assistance.

The “anything” she mentioned turned out to be many things. Since her time at CFI, she has accomplished numerous notable feats. From skydiving to scuba diving with manta rays in Hawaii, Makerney is never left without an interesting contribution to a conversation.

Following her time at CFI, Makerney earned a position in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit while competing in the 2010 Warrior Games hosted at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She continued service as a member of the U.S. Army for a year, where she made the U.S. Shooting Team.

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